2014 MLS Season Review: Houston Dynamo

Eastern Conference Final Position: 8th

Review

They started the season with a flyer, beating New England 4-0 at home but struggled without Brad Davis during the World Cup and never challenged for a playoff spot.

Best Moment

Signing DaMarcus Beasley – World Cup star Beasley joining Houston was a signal that the Dynamo can still attract marquee signings.

Worst Moment

Mark Sherrod’s injury – Just twelve minutes into the D.C United game, Sherrod went down and the forward’s season was over. We’re hoping to see him fully fit in 2015.

Player of the Year

Brad Davis was the main man and the leader of the pack. They missed his influence massively while he was at the World Cup in Brazil.

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Biggest Win

Houston Dynamo 4-0 New England Revolution (March 9 2014)

Biggest Defeat

New York Red Bulls 4-0 Houston Dynamo (April 23 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

Houston needs to strengthen defensively; possibly another midfielder in the draft, someone who can learn from Brad Davis so they can form a core to build around.

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What did we learn in DC United’s win against the Houston Dynamo?

Houston Dynamo visited DC United on Wednesday night and left with nothing but an injury to rookie Mark Sherrod as DC strolled to a 2-0 win. However, there a many things we can take from the game:

1. Giles Barnes is playing to deep for Dynamo.

The ex-Derby County winger is being deployed as a central midfielder as of late, and he is struggling with the defensive responsibilities assigned to him.

If the Dynamo wants to get the best out of Barnes they are going to have to play him in a more advanced role, and reduce the amount of his defensive duties.

You don’t keep your thoroughbred locked in the stables!

 

2. Dynamo are desperately missing Brad Davis.

Much of the reason why Barnes is playing in midfield is down to the loss of Davis, who is currently with the national team.

However, the experienced midfielder is widely expected to miss out on Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23- man squad for the World Cup, and so he should be back sooner rather than later.

The Dynamo midfield is missing their playmaker badly, and his set-pieces are irreplaceable.

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(Photo: Houston will be looking forward to the return of Brad Davis)

 

3. No Eddie Johnson, no problem.

Chris Rolfe deputized for the suspended Johnson on Wednesday night, in an advanced position, and he managed to score as well.

Filling-in to partner red-hot Fabian Espindola, Rolfe beat his man and fired past Tally Hall in textbook fashion.

Rolfe acts as a partner for Espindola rather than a target man like EJ, and it will be interesting to see how the trio play when Johnson comes back into the side.

 

4. Espindola is a touch of class.

I mentioned in the preview for this game that there was expectation on Espindola to perform, and he did not disappoint, grabbing the assist for Rolfe’s goal and scoring one himself.

He single-handedly inspired DC to victory by notching his fifth goal of the season.

He is arguably DC’s most important player as Eddie Johnson has yet to start firing on all cylinders.

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(Photo: Fabian Espindola is crucial for DC)

 

5. Bill Hamid has to be the next long-term USMNT ‘keeper.

The 23 year-old shot stopper showed again last night why he has such a great reputation. He was tested throughout the game by long-range efforts and looked commanding at all times.

With an upcoming age problem amongst the goalkeepers in the USMNT, the young Hamid has to be the first port of call, post Brazil. Brad Guzan is the youngest ‘keeper going to Brazil at 29.

Many will argue Hamid should be heading to Brazil, but playing more games for DC will only enhance his ability.

 

Highlights via MLS on YouTube:

Preview: D.C. United vs Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo travel to DC tonight hoping to continue a rich run of form against the Washington DC based club.

DC will be without the suspended Eddie Johnson who misses out through a retrospective ban for leaving his foot in on Troy Perkins when the Montreal Impact visited on Saturday night.

However, they still can call upon the talent of Fabian Espindola, who will have to improve his record of four goals in ten games tonight if DC has any chance of winning.

The Dynamo will be pleased with how their attack is shaping up, with the recent form of Mark Sherrod impressing, and the rookie has 2 goals in as many appearances. Will Bruin will play alongside Sherrod again and ex-Derby prospect Giles Barnes will be responsible for supplying the duo in the absence of Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia.

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(Photo: Mark Sherrod will hope to continue his fine run of performances of late)

It looks set to be an uphill battle for DC, however, having lost only one in their last six, form is certainly on the side of the Washington-based club.

The loss of Eddie Johnson will be huge, as ideally he would have freed up Espindola to roam. But with EJ missing, expect attentions to turn to Espindola, who will be tightly marked for most of the game.

Player to watch: Andrew Driver (Houston Dynamo)

English-born Driver is due a goal and it would be perfect timing for the ex-Hearts winger to score tonight. He was unlucky against the Galaxy as he saw an effort come off the post, and he will be hoping his luck changes tonight.

Key stat: Houston have won six out of the last seven meetings between the two.

Prediction: D.C United 0-1 Houston Dynamo – I expect a second clean sheet in a row for Tally Hall who has been impressive this season.

Real Salt Lake punish Houston

By Jamie Ives

Real Salt Lake netted five times on Saturday night against Houston to win 5-2 in an eventful game, in which Javier Morales grabbed a hat-trick.

The Dynamo, who were coming off the back of a clean sheet were below par defensively all night, and this was seen from the first whistle, as Javier Morales chipped Tally Hall with only fifteen seconds on the clock.

The Cantona-esque effort was nothing short of sublime, as Hall could do nothing but admire the skillful attempt.

The lead was doubled in the seventeenth minute, as Morales got on the scoresheet for the second time, tapping in from six yards from a corner which had been headed back into the box.

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(Photo: Javier Morales was excellent, and ended the night with a hat-trick)

Rookie, Mark Sherrod, opened his MLS account to bring the Dynamo back into the game after he slotted in from a Brad Davis corner.

However, disaster struck in the twenty-seventh minute as Servando Carrasco was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Morales.

With Houston having to play two thirds of the match with ten men, Salt Lake took the advantage and stretched their lead just five minutes after the dismissal.

Englishman Luke Mulholland delivered a peach of a cross into the near post, and Alvaro Saborio guided his header perfectly across goal and into the bottom corner.

Two minutes after that Houston had a penalty, and another chance to get back into the game, after Aaron Maund brought down David Horst in the box.

Ex-Derby County midfielder Giles Barnes stepped up to take it, but the penalty was very poor and Nick Rimando saved with ease, meaning Salt Lake went in at halftime with a 3-1 lead.

Houston came out looking for a goal to get them back in the match, and Mark Sherrod doubled his tally in the fifty-sixth minute to bring Houston to within a goal.

Sherrod’s powerful finish was the result of hard work by Giles Barnes to secure the ball, and the rookie smashed the ball past the outstretched Rimando.

Salt Lake survived a Dynamo charge and their fourth came in the seventy-eighth minute, when Mulholland rounded Tally Hall and slotted into an empty net from a tight angle, after a intricate pass from Morales opened up the Dynamo defence.

With the game out of reach and dying down, Salt Lake had one more chance to score when Tally Hall pulled down Devon Sandoval to give the visitors a penalty.

Morales stepped up and ended his wonderful night with a hat-trick as he buried the spot-kick past Hall.

Houston need to regroup fast as they face the LA Galaxy on Saturday, while the dangerous Real Salt Lake host the Colorado Rapids.

Highlights via the MLS YouTube channel:

5 takeaways from a thrilling MLS weekend

There were 35 goals scored in the nine MLS matches this weekend, with three teams netting five. We look at five key things we took away from this weeks action.

 

1. What a weekend for rookies.

Three rookies stood out this week and all got on the scoresheet. Harry Shipp got off the mark in MLS, and did so in style as he netted three against New York on Saturday night. Shipp has been brilliant and stood out once more, with a hat-trick and an assist in Chicago’s 5-4 win against the Red Bulls.

Patrick Mullins had another good weekend, and got his second goal of the season in New Englands 5-0 thumping of Seattle. The striker also netted in last week’s 2-1 win at Toronto and is certainly making the Revs attack a more threatening proposition. His direct style of play allows those in behind to find space around the box, and Diego Fagundez and Teal Bunbury certainly did that against the Sounders.

And finally, Mark Sherrod got his first MLS goals as Houston lost 5-2 to Real Salt Lake on Sunday night. The 23-year-old lead the attack for the Dynamo in place of Will Bruin who missed out with a knee injury. Sherrod made his mark however, with his two goals and was evidently delighted to get off the mark, but he and his Houston teammates will be disappointed by the heavy defeat.

Photo: USA TODAY Sports

Harry Shipp enjoyed an incredible weekend, and one he won’t forget in a hurry. Photo: USA TODAY Sports

 

2. Hat-tricks are fun.

There were three hat-tricks this weekend as defences didn’t fancy turning up for the majority of games. The aforementioned Harry Shipp, as well as Bradley Wright-Phillips and Javier Morales all got three goals. There were two in the 5-4 thriller between New York and Chicago, the first time there has been two hat-tricks in a single game in MLS history.

Javier Morales was in fine form for Salt Lake, and he didn’t waste any time getting started, as he netted after just 15 seconds; the fourth fastest goal in MLS history. Morales completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot in the 88th minute, and also got an assist in a dominant performance.

 

3. The Sounders are not unbeatable.

The Sounders were humiliated in New England as the Revolution won 5-0, preventing Seattle from making it six-wins in a row. They had also scored at least once in every game prior to Sundays match, and the shut-out will concern some fans who are dreaming of an MLS Cup win already. New England were tactically perfect against Seattle, they contained their attack and just countered them over and over, and it will be interesting to see if more teams adopt the same approach now.

 

4. Martin Chavez makes Colorado pay for their trade.

Colorado traded away Martin Chavez to Chivas USA last week, and clearly didn’t look ahead to the fact that they were playing Chivas just days later. The Honduran came on just before the hour mark in Colorado, and made some start to his Chivas career.

He scored twice against his former team to help Chivas to a 3-1 win, their first win since the opening day of the season back in March. Chavez finished nicely on two occasions, and his goals will be a welcome boost to the side, as they have been relying on Erik Torres too heavily.

Chavez came back to haunt Colorado just days after leaving the club

Chavez came back to haunt Colorado just days after leaving the club

5. Columbus still can’t win, or even score.

Vancouver Whitecaps are the latest side to beat the Columbus Crew, and their form is pretty awful now. Columbus are not playing well. After winning their first three games of the season, they haven’t won since March, and have now lost three on the bounce. The Crew haven’t scored in their last three and only have three goals in their past seven games. It’s concerning for Columbus and they can’t come up with an alternative game plan as Federico Higuain is being marked out of games by opponents now.

They travel to Portland at the weekend in a game between two sides desperate for a win, and will hope they can finally get three points on the board.